Ways to Reduce the Holiday Stress
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=”” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=”” hover_type=”none” link=””][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]So many of us look forward to the holiday season. We get to see family, attend special events, dress up, eat delicious food, and partake in religious ceremonies. No matter what holiday you celebrate or when, what’s universal about celebrating important dates is that celebration and stress often go hand-in-hand. As you age and you often accept the responsibility of hosting a celebration or meal. This is when you might realize how much work is involved! If you are younger or a teenager, it can be stressful to be away from friends on school break. It is truly an exhausting time, regardless of how much fun it also is.
What is good to know, however, is that you are not alone and there are ways to decrease your stress! Keep reading for steps to take in order to have a stress-free holiday season.
Plan for The Holiday To Minimize Stress
This step seems obvious, but it couldn’t be more important to adequately plan for the holiday you are celebrating to avoid stress! I know that I have ran to the local department store on Christmas Eve or the grocery store right before Thanksgiving and it was very stressful. There were so many people rushing around and too many cars on the road trying to get somewhere in the cold and snow!
You can identify well in advance what you want your holiday to look like and what the steps are to get you to that ideal celebration. Pre-plan what you will do if anxiety or stress occurs. This is called coping ahead and is a very commonly used behavioral therapy skill. I know that if I feel stressed or anxious, I have the plan of escaping for a bit of exercise. This is my cope ahead plan. What does your plan for managing stress look like if it comes up? Think about this and plan around it.
Drop the need to be perfect
This may be the toughest strategy of them all. We may feel inclined to spend the holidays with people we love and we want it go well. This may prompt us to feel we have to make a perfect holiday celebration. Perhaps you are looking for the perfect Instagram photo to capture this it or are trying to find the perfect appetizer to serve. Stop! Working for this level of perfection is a recipe for stress and anxiety.
Allow the holiday to be as it will be, imperfections and all. These often make for the best stories. Holding yourself to such high standards can make you feel sick and you may not be as present for the holiday as you would like to.
Delegate Duties To Your Friends and Family Instead of Stressing
Please stop feeling like you have to do everything for everyone. This is a recipe for holiday stress. People need to be able to be responsible for themselves. Many people may feel that they must prepare all of the meal and the deserts and anything else associated with their holiday celebration. This is unrealistic and not fair to yourself and your mental health.
I recommend that we be willing to ask for help during the holidays. Delegate tasks to people if they do not appear to prefer the way that they provide support. Ask for time to nap a nap and rest. Do what you need to do to reduce the stress associate with running the entire show.
Say “no” to Stress Sources
Learning to establish boundaries and say no will take you far where holiday stress is compared. The holiday stress that we take on because we say yes repeatedly is unnecessary. Learn to use the word no. It is okay to set boundaries and say no to people. In fact, it almost always goes far better than you think it will.
Stop doing things you don’t want to do
Stop doing things because you feel like you must. Only do things that you really want to do! This is very common, especially for young people, during the holidays to do things because they feel they must for their family. During the holidays we spend time with people or go to events that we do not want to or that do not feel safe for us because it is “tradition” or because it makes our family feel good. At the end of the day, your health and wellness is what matters.
Tell yourself the following mantra: I will not do things unless they serve me well. If attempting to make another desert for that party will push you over the edge, purchase a desert to bring instead. If you never wanted to host a dinner party, ask someone else to host. Be honest about what you are and are not able to do and be honest about what you do want to do versus what you don’t want to do. You have the right to choose and plan for yourself during the holidays. This will reduce that holiday stress.
So many of us fall victim to the common feelings that you will pick up exercising again after the holidays are over! Exercise reduces hormones in the body that make you feel good! A simple walk or weight lifting session will help you to manage the stress and anxiety that the holidays can bring you. It can help you experience more joy and motivation.
If you adhere to an exercise routine, I suggest trying to maintain it as much as possible through the holidays. If you’re a runner, find time to run. Even on the holiday. Get up early and spend that time committed to yourself and your running. If you bike, perhaps try to bike to events you need to attend. If you lift weights, walk your dog, swim, or attend a group class, keep doing it! Your body and your mind will thank you as will your holiday stress level. If you are a teenager, this is the perfect way to stay connected to your friends. Schedule time for a game of basketball or a snowball fight. Keep your heart rate up just a bit to keep the stress low.
Checking in with your body and how it is doing is essential when experiencing holiday stress! Learn some deep breathing if you do not already do this. I also recommend teaching your children or teenagers if you have a family. Teaching them to use these skills when they are young will help as they age. We often forget that holidays are stressful for our young people as well because they may not be the individuals coordinating but they experience stress when their schedules are off. They also experience secondary stress observing their family living with holiday stress. Engaging in interventions as a family can be extremely beneficial.
Conscious and mindful breathing is a way that we refocus the body and regulate ourselves when we feel stress and anxiety levels rise. It is an intentional way to treat the body with kindness and respect. We may begin to feel the fight or flight reactions that come with stress around the holidays and breathing is a way of quieting the ruminating thoughts! If you are interested in learning a few deep breathing techniques, read here!
Try to avoid overspending
Nothing says holiday stress like spending too much money. Watching your spending and avoiding spending too much is an easy to strategy to overlook! It is common to spend more money during the holidays because you want to buy nice gifts and food and you may need to travel. You may be spending more money in gas than you typically would while also being less likely to pick up extra shifts. This overspending adds up quick! Overspending may prolong the stress and anxiety that the holidays bring. You do not want to be checking your account a few weeks after the holidays to realize that you spent more than you planned on and now must try to rearrange how you plan to pay your bills. When you are preparing for the holiday season, set a realistic limit for yourself and try to stick to it as much as possible!
Money management is already stressful but having to do so in an event stricter way can be detrimental. This kind of holiday stress can result in depression and anxiety. The holidays are important, of course, but your mental health and wellness is equally as important.
One practice that I have implemented and found to be helpful in reducing my stress is to keep a daily gratitude journal and read it during moments of stress or anxiety. When you look for it, even on difficult days, there is almost always something that occurred to be grateful for. Whether that is a good book you’re reading or sitting in sunshine, reflecting on these grateful moments will reduce holiday stress.
Choose a journal that you enjoy and set aside time everyday to reflect on how the holidays are going and how you feel. What did you derive joy from? What happened that you feel grateful for? What are you looking forward to? These questions will help reduce the stress you feel from things you might need to get done or from family you’re preparing to see and help you focus on the parts that you are truly looking forward to.
Getting help for your stress
If the holidays are causing you such significant worry and stress, the answer might also include asking for professional help. This can be in several different forms. Outpatient mental health counseling could be incredibly helpful to you if you are doing well at navigating your stressors. If you are unable to manage them, a great option could be residential treatment. You could admit to a treatment facility for 24/7 support. This is great for individuals who are finding themselves unable to navigate the stressors and daily functioning needs. You will have access to consistent mental health supports including individual and group therapy as well as medical doctors and psychiatrists who can provide holistic and well-rounded supports. Residential treatment often kick starts someone’s recovery needs to stay well because they get such intensive support in a short amount of time. It also gives them space away from daily life to reset in a way. An individual will learn and practice new skills for managing their ongoing mental health support needs.
One takeaway I would like for everyone during this time of year is that despite the holiday stress, there is always good to be found. Reducing the holiday stress by continuing to take care of ourselves, setting appropriate boundaries, and looking for joy will promote overall wellness and health.
Engage your family and those you love in this process so that you’re not only taking care of yourself but promoting that for others as well.
At Hillcrest, we pride ourselves on providing comprehensive mental health treatment for teenagers who are struggling with an eating disorder and may need residential treatment to help them manage it. Have your parent or guardian contact us today![/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]